Tag Archives: J. Willgoose Esq.

Blogathon: Inform – Educate – Excite Us With Tidbits About New Material: Public Service Broadcasting Interview

31 Jan

PSB Interview

If you’ve been wondering where we’ve been for the last hour or so of the Blogathon, don’t worry, we haven’t sacked it off in favour of falling asleep on the sofa with Bargain Hunt on in the background. We’ve actually been chatting away with one of our favourite people and all round good egg, Mr. J. Willgoose, Esq or the wonderful Public Service Broadcasting

Unusually for PSB, Mr. J. was not out and about touring the country or beyond so he vey kindly offered to give up some of his writing time to chat to us about the year he has just had and what he has planned for the future, all in support of Blogathon.

Told you he was a good egg. Here’s the chat we just had.

Alphabet Bands: Mr J. How are you Sir?

J. Willgoose, Esq: Very well thanks

Jolly good, and where in the world are you at the moment?

I am in my kitchen, which is something of a novelty

I expect it is given the amount of touring you did last year. How does it feel to be home?

Very nice, thanks! We’re gearing up for our month in America but it’s been nice to spend a bit of time at home for a change

You’ve been to the States before yes? How was it? Suitably exciting that you are heading back I see.

Yes, we went over for CMJ in October. We played 3 shows, one of which wasn’t much fun, one of which was chaotic but fun, and one of which was good fun and seen by some good people.. so it was a good mix.

So pretty much the Goldilocks experience then? Are you over for SXSW this time or is this a full on PSB tour?

Well, I should say it’s all dependent on getting visas, which with a shady character like Wriggles on board is not going to be plain sailing. I’m not even sure his family know his first name. But yes we’re doing a west coast run, Chicago, Toronto, then east coast and then down to Texas via Georgia.
I am fully expecting SXSW to be full of lots of big time charlies, but hopefully there’ll be some nice people there. I think there’s an attitude amongst certain bands that if you’re playing there, you’re kind of a big deal, which is an attitude we run a million miles from. But it should still be an interesting one

Yes, you do a very nice line is self-depreciation which has been evident in live shows before. I saw that your stage set-up expanded towards the end of last year. Are you tempted to go even bigger for America? They don’t do ‘small’ over there really.

Tempted, yes, but we’re starting from square one over there so on a practical level there just wouldn’t be room for it. And on an even more practical level, we can’t afford to ship it all out there! It’s going to be a bit of a step back in time for us though to early last year when we were on the Signal 30 tour, pre-album, and being provided with fitted (elasticated) bedsheets to use as projector screens. Although I do expect American venues to be run a lot better than some of the ones over here!

Given the number of shows you did last year, you must have seen practically every small to medium sized venue in the UK! Aside from Norwich (of course) were there any particular standouts?

Ha – it’s quite hard to remember them all to be honest! My other half is always telling me I should keep a diary, which I always agree with and then always fail to. Off the very top of my head though we loved the crowds and the venue down in Exeter, the Phoenix… and the Railway in Winchester was a good old-fashioned sweatbox to start the year off.

Oh and the show we did at the Brewery Arts Centre in Kendal was good fun – a nice local crew there, and it’s where we met our soundman Rob (better known as Bobby Goldenears), so it’s full of fond memories for us all

How about the show with New Order? Was it a surprise to be asked to play with them?

If you’re talking overall highlights.. well, the above, plus our show at The Forum, plus supporting New Order & the Manics… plus Glastonbury… they were all pretty special. And yes, it’s always a surprise being asked to play with a band you have that much respect for. It’s pretty much the best feeling I think you can have, in any profession – peer validation, in a way. If people who you respect for what they do seem to feel the same way about you then it is immensely satisfying. Plus more than a little odd!

Speaking of odd… How did the BBC F1 link come about? It looked amazing and I must confess, I was very pleased and proud to see you guys doing it. How did you feel when you were asked and then when you saw it back?

Ha, thanks.. It just came up as quite a late possibility towards the start of our November tour. I think the guys behind the video had thought about booking deadmaus, but that wasn’t happening, so we were naturally second in the queue! I have to be honest, as nice as everyone on the shoot was and as amazing exposure as it was, it is incredibly boring playing the same minute and a half of a song for 7 hours or so, so by the time we’d finished filming I was ready never to hear it again. Then we were driving back from our show in the Netherlands that Sunday and started to see Twitter going bonkers, and that’s when it kind of hit us. I think it’s very easy to get used to a certain level of exposure and start taking it for granted, or just to get wrapped up in the detail (as per the filming) and forget how ridiculous, and great, the last year has been, on many levels.

Oh and I can’t comment on that F1 video without thanking the guys at Intro and the beeb who actually edited the song – it wasn’t our work to put the samples on it, they did all the hard stuff and we just moaned about standing around in corduroy all day!

Wriggles doesn’t do stairs any more, too – he’s gone a bit Mariah on us

Hahaha. When he starts asking for all the brown M&M’s to be taken out, you know it’s time to get Wriggles III in…

Ha. Yeah, we’re keeping tabs on the situation..

I’m glad you mentioned the Netherlands (as well as your stellar 2013) as you took us all by surprise with the release of the two Elfstedentocht tunes. How much fun was that to do?

It was nice, actually – great to do something on a bit of a tangent. I think most people appreciated that we were keen to explore other areas and broaden the net a bit, which was good. I was slightly worried that people would think we’d gone totally bonkers. It didn’t stop several people missing the point entirely (the Guardian’s review of our Forum show being a prime example) but it was just good to get some new material into the live set.

Hmmm, the Guardian has a habit of missing the point when it comes to you, in my opinion, but they are quite nice with it I suppose…

Yeah, they’ve said some nice things, but quite a few different people write for them so you’re bound to get a bit of a mixed bag of opinions there

Very true. I can only blame myself sadly… Ok, new material.
I know I cannot ask what it is but how is it going? Are you working on a new album?

Ha. I have trained you well sir! And I am going to answer the second question first, and with a question of my own. If I said it was likely to be c.30 minutes long and 7-8 tracks, what would you say that was?
An EP? An album? A mini-album?

EP I would say. Though others may disagree.

I’d say mini-album. It’s not going to fit on a 10″, which instantly means it’s not an EP in my eyes
Although The War Room was a 12″.. so it’s hard to say

Yeah, I could be persuaded actually. 8 tracks too. Bit long for an EP

Maybe 7
Possibly 9
Actually no
It’s 7 or 8

So, some tracks then…

Yes. That much we know.
And I have demo’d about 4 of them now to a reasonable level, and started on the 5th today. It is a tough process as you’re continually battling against self-doubt, procrastination, self-loathing and other melodramatic emotions.. but I think I’m doing alright so far.

Aside from the inner demons, how has the process been? Have you found it easier to get samples? The BBC reduced their rate after the F1 appearance?

I’ve actually been working on this already for over a year – I think the first email I sent was just as I was finishing the album last January, and the BFI have again come up with the goods on a quite spectacular scale. I’ve also got some other sources on the go, so I’ve definitely got enough material, and it covers what I hoped it would. Now the challenge is to meld the material to the ideas I’ve been carrying in my head for the past year or so and tie the whole thing together so that it makes sense. I would say that the most likely first single is a bit of a departure. I played it to the Mrs the other day and she didn’t like it as she said it was too cheesy. She’s been wrong before though!

Hahahahaha. You’re not going all Euro Pop Guetta on us are you Sir? Pitbull on guest vocals?

Definitely not. It’s just quite.. er.. different, in terms of instrumentation. I think. I mean it might end up getting binned anyway, so I shouldn’t say too much. I think it’s good though.

What I will say is that it’s very incongruous.. deliberately so. It doesn’t match the subject matter in the way that you’d think it would. But that is the point, for me. I think we need to be brave in the way we develop things from here.

Sounds intriguing and quite exciting. Bravery is a good thing in music and should be applauded. Will there be other surprises? Any more foreign language tracks like Elfstedentocht?

There will be foreign language on some of it, but it’ll be interspersed with translations and other English commentary, I think. Unless I find something really good between now and later in the year!

Oooh, so multiple languages on one song then? Is that what you mean?

If by multiple you mean two, then yes!

Hahaha. I think that counts, maths was never my strong point…
So, any news on release times? Or is it far too early to be talking about that?

It’s not if you ask my management! We’re already well into 2015 in their eyes. I try to be a bit more realistic… but I hope there will at least be a single before the end of the year, if not the full thing proper.

Ahhh, so after a storming and prolific 2013, this year could be relatively quiet. Just a thousand gigs…

Ha, yes. We’ve still got a very full calendar – I’ve had to fight to reclaim some of it for writing too. Most of the focus for the first half of the year is on the US & Europe, with festivals and a small UK tour for later in the year.

Yes, I imagine writing on tour must be extremely difficult. Will we see you in Norwich before the year is out perhaps?

I’m not sure, sir. I can’t say for definite. When I say a small tour, I mean 5 or 6 dates, so the odds aren’t great. We’ll see though. I’ll always be up for a gig in Norwich personally, if it makes sense with the rest of our schedule.

Ahh right, that is small – especially by your standards. Ok, I don’t want to keep you from valuable writing time. Before we go, one last question on behalf of my Brother in Blogathon arms Breaking More Waves…

Do you ever get mistaken for the ‘other’ PSB, the Pet Shop Boys?

Ha! Not in person, no. On Twitter it’s more of an issue because our name is too long for Twitter, so we had to abbreviate it to PSB_HQ. But I don’t think anyone’s ever come to one of our gigs expecting to see the Pet Shop Boys. I hope not, anyway – on production values alone they’d be sorely disappointed!

The lack of silly hats… and Wriggles looks like he’s having far too much fun to pull off Moody & Aloof. I’m sure they’d still have a great time though.

I’ve never seen them myself, actually – I’d love to. Some classics in there!

Absolutely, I think it would be fantastic show. Well, you’ve played with New Order, perhaps they could be next. Tell your management to get on it, The PSB Squared Tour.

Ha. Consider that done, sir. Consider it done.

Can’t wait. Mr. J. Willgoose, Esq, thank you for your time today, I look forward to hearing the new material later this year, maybe next.

Thanks sir! Fingers crossed eh. Good luck with the blogathon too, a noble cause.


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2013 Albums of the Year #3: Public Service Broadcasting – Inform – Educate – Entertain

19 Dec

PSB_Album Art

It should come as no surprise at all to anyone who reads Alphabet Bands, even semi-regularly, to see that the debut album by Public Service Broadcasting should feature highly on our list of favourites from 2013. After topping our EP of the Year list in 2012 with The War Room, we, like many many others, were eagerly and excitedly awaiting the arrival of Inform – Educate – Entertain. We were not disappointed.

We’ve spoken at length about how skilfully and artfully they use the music and the melody to complement and enhance the narrative of the samples from old public information films and archive footage, but it is worth stating again. It is far too easy to get lost in the perceived gimmick of Public Service Broadcasting and to our mind that misses the point. The samples are critical of course, but the beauty and enjoyment comes from how they are used and woven into complimentary sounds to convey a narrative, emotion, excitement and energy.

There is no single thread here, but each track has been spun and entwined with its own individual soundtrack. “Signal 30” brilliantly evokes the sense of speed and drama, hurtling along at a breakneck pace with the guitars revving and growling engine like, an undercurrent of barely contained aggression bubbling away. “Everest” is ebullient, uplifting and triumphant. The swell of brass at the tracks culmination brings the feeling of achievement and success to life and instils a sense of warmth and euphoria in the listener while “The Now Generation” is much more playful and light-hearted.

There is variety here in spades, so much so that the samples actually augment the music, not the other way round. Naval Officer Thomas Woodrooffe’s infamous drunken account of the Spithead Review of 1937 could easily be played for laughs and dismissed but instead, on “Lit Up”, it forms a delicate and evocative accompaniment to a moment of wondrous and beautiful calm. ”It’s fairyland, the whole fleet is in fairyland”, he rambles as we are treated to floating electronics and church bells, very much the aural equivalent of the fairy lamps he can see all around him.

On an album as strong as Inform – Educate – Entertain it is hard to pick standout tracks, but you will have to go far to find a better album opener than the title track, a medley of the forthcoming delights that will have fans grinning from ear to ear, while the W.H. Auden featuring “Night Mail” is just sublime.

As wonderful as the samples are and as perfectly chosen and utilised as they have been, attention should be on the undeniable quality of the music presented, the emotions that it is able to stir within and the simple fact that, because of those factors, you will be listening to this for a long time to come. It’s a fantastic accomplishment and one that does everything it says it will, and then some.

’Inform – Educate – Entertain’ is out on Test Card Recordings and can be bought digitally here or on CD/Vinyl here.


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Watch: Public Service Broadcasting – “Night Mail”

28 Sep

PSB Night Mail Video

We’ve already waxed lyrical about Public Service Broadcasting’s forthcoming single, “Night Mail”. Hell, we’ve already and regularly waxed lyrical about Public Service Broadcasting. Their singles, album, live shows etc etc. We are big fans, you already know that, so we won’t bore you by going on and on today about how amazing they are (they’re fantastic!). Instead we will just talk about their brand new video.

New being the operative word as here they are, doing something they haven’t done before. Filmed on location at the Mangapps Railway Museum and directed by Rob Hackett, the video for “Night Mail” features more than just archive footage from the 1936 documentary film of the same name, it also features appearances from Mr J. Willgoose, Esq and Wrigglesworth themselves!

It has to be said, it’s great to see the pair in one of their own videos for once; resplendent in corduroy and looking only slightly frozen (the video was filmed over night after the warm weather had passed, poor sods). It also has to be said that the video really adds something to an already superb tune, especially the way the old footage has been projected on various locations across the museum.

“Night Mail” is probably our favourite tune from their stellar debut album, Inform – Educate – Entertain but these new visuals have added another layer, a greater sense of majesty and reverence for the subject matter perhaps.

Take a watch below and enjoy yet another piece of brilliance from the Public Service Broadcasting guys.


”Night Mail” will be released on various formats on 4 Nov and the duo are also releasing a DVD of the album which will feature all the videos, live performances and extras. You can pre-order the DVD now and the first 200 copies will be signed by the band.

’Inform – Educate – Entertain’ is out now and can be bought digitally here or on CD/Vinyl here.

You can also catch a Public Service Broadcasting live transmission at a venue near you as their
never-ending gig schedule continues.

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Listen: Public Service Broadcasting – “Night Mail”

12 Sep

PSB Night Mail

It’s been quite a year for the charming gents of Public Service Broadcasting already. Their stunningly enjoyable (and educational) debut album stormed the UK top 40 and was nominated for independent album of the year (as well as breakthrough artist) at the recent AIM Awards. Bizarrely, in our opinion, it wasn’t nominated for the Mercury Prize but when you look at the list of albums that didn’t make it, they are in good company.

One award they weren’t nominated for was hardest working band, which beggars belief when you consider their never-ending gig schedule and the number of high quality releases they have put out in the last 12 months or so.

In fact, it is another stellar release that gives us cause to wax lyrical about them once more today as Messrs Willgoose and Wrigglesworth are putting out our favourite track from Inform – Educate – Entertain on 4 November, “Night Mail”. There will also be a video which, as far as we can tell, may even feature the duo themselves rather than just archive footage!

Built around words from the 1936 documentary film of the same name, and the W.H. Auden poem, also of the same name, “Night Mail” is a prime example of what makes Public Service Broadcasting so damn special. It’s not that they use the audio; it’s how they use the audio and how they create and arrange the music to complement and enhance it. To tell a story and give a sense of emotion and connection between words, music and listener.

Auden’s poem itself clatters along with the rhythm, tempo and cadence of a steam train charging through the countryside so it is only right that “Night Mail” does the same. In the same way that “Signal 30” careers recklessly around like a car on the verge of an accident, “Night Mail” remains very much on the tracks, moving relentlessly, excitingly forwards with majestic, rolling scenery all around it. It’s fantastic and as the conductor yells “now” and the train whistle blares out, guitars and drums meet in a perfect storm of controlled energy and ambition as the track steams along.

We love it, all aboard!

”Night Mail” will be released on various formats on 4 Nov and the duo are also releasing a DVD of the album which will feature all the videos, live performances and extras. You can pre-order the DVD now and the first 200 copies will be signed by the band.

’Inform – Educate – Entertain’ is out now and can be bought digitally here or on CD/Vinyl here.


Read More About: Public Service Broadcasting

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2013 Preview: Listen Out For – Public Service Broadcasting

7 Dec

PSB XOYO

In news about as shocking as day following night, Public Service Broadcasting are our final artist to Listen Out For in 2013. You didn’t really think we’d leave them off did you?

2012 has been kind to Mr J. Willgoose, Esq and Wrigglesworth and understandably so. Four time winners of Steve Lamacq’s Rebel Playlist on 6Music, acclaim upon acclaim for The War Room EP (which, spoiler alert, will feature prominently in our round-up of the year next week) and sold out Transmissions across the country. If that wasn’t enough, they even got to meet us twice this year! Well, you can’t have it all I suppose.

With the release of The War Room a band that was bubbling under, suddenly started to boil over and make a delicious mess on the kitchen counter of the music world. Interest in the pair is increasing daily and everyone we speak to about them has the same reaction of excitement and enthusiasm, they love what they have heard and want to hear more.

If all goes to plan, we should be hearing more sometime next year. An album is being worked on and if PSB are able to continue on their current trajectory, the results could be quite spectacular. Looking back at the early releases, you can see how the pair has grown musically. The fun and frivolity of the likes of “Introduction (Let Yourself Go” and “ROYGBIV” has been enhanced by the depth and emotion of “London Can Take It”, “Waltz For George” and “Everest”. That’s not to say you can no longer dance to it, as anyone who was at their sold out show at XOYO last week will tell you.

What was interesting about that show in particular, aside from the next (old?) generation stage set-up they used, was that the cinematic samples were not as prominent. Intentional or not we don’t know, but in that night they were able to show that they are more than just their gimmick. The balance was strongly in favour of the music and, while the samples were still audible, they didn’t feel like the focus. There was no question that it was the music and the guys performing who were providing the entertainment. People were dancing, whooping and hollering. The fevered crowd devoured it and cried out more.

We already anticipated a big year for the esteemed gentlemen but their show last week reaffirmed in our mind, as good as 2012 was (and it was brilliant), 2013 should be even better.





Read More: Prepare for Transmission: Public Service Broadcasting Interview / In Review: Public Service Broadcasting – The War Room EP / Listen: Public Service Broadcasting – “Everest”

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